Important Info! (From The “Cuddy Cruise”)

Hi All – I’m editing this post on 9/1/16 to add the technical data on the dredger; the cost savings; and the oversight as supplied by Dan Fredricks, project engineer – I’ll just copy it here in *bold*, since I’m not able to make it a different color or font to let you know where the changes were made:

We appreciate your concerns and want to assure everyone that we have assembled an experienced and qualified team to complete the channel dredging along the Cuddy Intercounty Drain and Island Drive Channel.

In regard to Mr. Bidol’s concern about the type of dredging equipment being used, we are using mechanical (as opposed to hydraulic) excavating equipment; however, the equipment is every bit as modern and precise as hydraulic dredging methods.  The dredging Contractor, GroAmerica, is equipped with the latest electronic technology installed on their mechanical dredging equipment.  The dredger that will be used on the Cuddy / Island Drive channels is equipped with 2015 Topcon GPS system that is controlled using 3 fixed points to provide a real-time 3D image of channel bottom.  This allows the Contractor to precisely monitor what is being dredged.  GroAmerica owns both hydraulic and mechanical equipment; however, they chose to use a mechanical excavator because it will allow them better access to tight spaces near docks and boat houses to provide the best possible finished product.  In addition, the cost savings of using mechanical versus hydraulic dredging equipment saved residents almost $45,000.     

In addition to the Contractor’s quality control provisions, Land and Resources Engineering will have a full time inspector on-site that will be routinely checking GroAmerica’s work. Should residents have any questions or concerns during construction, please feel free to contact our office and we will do our best to address their needs.

OK – back to my original post and a giant “thank you” to Dan for the info!

Last night’s cruise up and down the Cuddy and Island Dr channels was informative, and there have been some changes to the dredging plan that residents need to know, so spread the word!!

#1.  The dredging will be done mechanically*, with a doublewide barge and long-reach excavator. This is good because it saves us money (I thought I heard Dan say it saved $82,000?  $45,000); this is temporarily bad for the slackers, because the working barge is 40′ x 40′. There’s not much chance that you’ll be able to navigate past that when they’re working. GET YOUR BOATS AND BOAT LIFTS OUT BEFORE SEP’T 12TH!!!!

#2.  The starting point will be the Bayview Marina.  There will also be 2 “hauling barges” that deliver the dredged sediment to the marina boat ramp.  From there, the sediment will be dumped into trucks and taken to a site where it will be used for “land reclamation” by a gravel mine.  There was some discussion as to the path the dredger will take (upstream, downstream, or Island Dr channel?) and I think that will be determined by how the bridge reconstruction is going.  Everyone involved recognizes that there’s no sense in dredging upstream until the risk of sediment being released by land construction is passed.

#3.  Three projects will run concurrently: dredging, bridge replacement, and reopening the Sedimentation Basin** and adding the Debris Barrier.  There is still upstream remediation on the west side of Patterson that needs to take place (like replacing the culverts under Timber Creek and stabilizing some stream banks) – but Dan Fredricks said that those might wait until Spring when the grass used to stabilize the banks will grow.  If they leave large bare spots over the winter, those could erode and cause the very problems they were trying to fix.  The Basin will catch any sediment caused by upstream work.

#4.   After Labor Day, Dan Fredricks (project engineer) and Jim Rosendall (dredger) will take videos of all the property frontage along the Cuddy and Island channels.  On our “cruise”, we noticed some seawalls, docks, and boat houses, that look like they are unstable.  A few look like they’re one good breeze from falling over….. the dredger will be taking great care when working around anyone’s seawalls and docks; but particularly when working around the “shaky” ones.   The video protects the dredger against those who might hope to gain a new seawall for free.

#5.  The good news: there were remarkably few hindrances to dredging, assuming all the boats and boat lifts are out of the way (a few folks have already removed their boats and lifts!).  The residents we talked to about their frontage, seemed more than willing to move some small docks out of the way to get better water depth.  Most of the permanent decks/docks posed no particular problem, and Jim felt he could at least get a swipe out of the cut-in “boat bays”.

*Jim explained how mechanical dredging is done: since they can’t see the bottom blade of the bucket, they watch a monitor screen that turns red when the bucket has reached the designated depth.  He will be dredging the deepest part a little wider than proposed; then the sides will be “stepped” up, in order to have a 2′ water depth at the seawall.  He said by removing the sediment by bucket, it’s quite “dry” (as opposed to hydraulic dredging that needs lots of water to move the sediment) – and the trucks that will carry away the sediment shouldn’t leak.  He said they recently did a job that removed 45,000 cubic yards (I think we’re removing 17,000 cu yds from the Cuddy), and didn’t received one complaint about mud/dust, etc.

I asked Jim how far they can travel in a day – he said about 4 houses, assuming 100′ frontage.

Something I just thought of: this process should be quieter (relatively speaking) than hydraulic dredging?  I can only imagine how constantly loud the pumps would be, that could move sediment a mile upstream??

**Yes, we leased almost 5 acres for the dredging spoils to be deposited on – now the plan is to use the temporary-lease land for sediment removed in reopening the Basin; and reserving the permanently-leased land for Basin maintenance.

Rain and E-coli

As your “Water Resources” girl (AKA “the Cootie Queen”) – let’s talk about poo and sewage, since Kalamazoo just accidentally released 570,000 gallons of it into the Kalamazoo River. Ugh.

It’s probably a good idea to stay out of ANY river or small lake/pond after a heavy rainfall, for a few days until sunlight can kill some of the pathogens. E-coli and its pathogenic friends come from any warm-blooded animal, including birds, farm animals, pets, and wild animals – and a heavy rain will wash an amazing amount of critter poo into storm drains which lead to local rivers (as a rule for cities); or into Agricultural Drains which lead to rivers or lakes (rural areas).  Then, if the sewage plants have overflows (most communities are trying to stop this from happening) – you get a double whammy of human pathogens, too.

I’m not sure how far downstream the e-coli released into the Kalamazoo River will travel.  On its journey to Lake Michigan, it will get diluted and exposed to sunlight which kills it. I’d like to think that it’s a non-event by the time it gets to Plainwell? But we won’t know unless someone is actually testing the water. And because very few sites actually get tested* – we go full circle back to my adage about staying out of  non-beach water after a heavy rain for a few days. Let Mother Nature do her thing and clean it up.

*Large public beaches are routinely tested for e-coli; and in my opinion, unless situated right next to a tributary bringing water from outlying lands, most public beaches are less-affected by heavy rain runoff.  We saw this during our June Around-Gun-Lake water testing, conducted after a night of heavy rain: our public beaches were fine; but the channels/tributaries had elevated e-coli.  I re-tested a week later, and the places with high e-coli, were back to “safe”.

Think of heavy rain as a “giant flush”.  Every time I’ve seen astronomical e-coli readings on the Cuddy – it was after a heavy rainstorm.  I truly doubt it’s just a “Cuddy” thing – I think it’s that way for every drain, creek and river; and probably for smaller ponds/lakes, too.  We just don’t hear about the temporarily-high e-coli because nobody is testing the water.

Cuddy/Geese/Bridge and other tidbits

Thanks to a power outage on Friday night, the Annual GLPA Membership meeting was held in the dark at the Gun Lake Chapel on Saturday morning. Actually, the Chapel has huge windows all around, so it was remarkably bright and cheery; but for my, um, “senior” eyes that needed to read my notes, it was plenty dark….LOL! A huge thank you! to all who attended and support the GLPA so wonderfully – I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who had to free my garage door from the electric opener so I could attend the meeting.

Andru Jevicks, Park Manager for Yankee Springs State Park, was one of our guest speakers, and he mentioned that earlier this summer, about 150 geese had been captured and relocated; caught either in the park, or in neighborhoods that had requested the DNR’s assistance.  This is awesome news, speaking as the person who tests the water around the lake – this probably explains the complete lack of e-coli in 14 of the 16 locations we tested the first week of August!!  For the 2 locations that registered e-coli, the count was still way in the “safe” zone.  Even the Cuddy had safe e-coli levels!!  There is an irrefutable connection between waterfowl and e-coli: if you have neighbors who like to feed the geese and ducks (which encourages them to hang around), please remind them that they are “fowl fouling” (pun intended) the water.  E-coli lives in the intestines of ALL warmblooded creatures; and that would include birds.

Watch for a bunch of us doing the “Cuddy Check” Monday night August 15th, starting at 5:30 PM.  Dan Fredricks, project engineer; and a representative from the dredging contractor, will be cruising the Cuddy Channel.  They will be looking for potential obstacles to a successful channel dredging, like boat lifts, docks, etc.  Notes will be made, and if the property owners are not on hand, I think an explanatory letter will be left at the home.  Pat Gillespie, Greg Purcell, myself, and several others will be tagging along.  I’m not sure if we’re starting at the upstream or downstream end of the channel?  Cuddy residents should have received an informational letter in the mail by Saturday 8/13/16.

PATTERSON BRIDGE CLOSING:  In that letter, a tentative date of September 12th was mentioned as a construction-start date.  The idea was to wait a week after Labor Day, for those companies that offer boat-storage and winterizing services, to get their clients’ boats out and not have to detour.  The bridge reconstruction and channel dredging will run concurrently; dredging will probably start at the downstream end of the Cuddy Channel; by the time it reaches Patterson, the bridgework should be done.